tv The Moment in Time CSPAN September 1, 2015 11:00pm-11:57pm EDT
of the best sources for atomic power and atomic weapons. >> he fought the battle to reserve water for western colorado by making sure that we got our fair shea share. how did he do that? well, beginning in his state career and going on to his federal career, he climbed up the ladder of seniority and was able to exercise, i think, more power than you might normally have. certainly in the united states congress where he was able to make sure colorado and western colorado would be treated fairley in any divisions of water. his first major success was the passage of the colorado river storage project in 1956. >> see all of our programs from
grand junction saturday at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span three. 70 years ago on july receive, st. 45, the first atomic bomb was tested. next on real america, the moment in time the manhattan project, a library of congress and national cob coproduction from the year 2000 which tells the story of the race to create the bomb..this interviews includes interview is with some of the key project transitions. things change in time.
in a moment in time in 1945, everything changed. the desert of central new mexico. the journey of death. named by spanish conquistadors pause if you ran out of water you did not survive. this is now known at trinity site. in a moment in time at this spot in july 1945, things changed. in the instant of what happened here, the length of a war changed, along with the course of history. it began years before and thousands of miles away. ♪ for years adolf hitler forced the nazi rule on europe. to the rest of the free world, his intentions were war and
brutality was his method. populations were set in motion. >> i came from hungary and germany. i have seen many things. i was deathly afraid for my family and all my friends. and i do not believe that people today realize how tremendous those things have been. because hitler, indeed, could have taken over the world. those of us who came from europe were more of that than the american fence. >> it came in stages. from very early on, jews were arrested and put in concentration camps. it kept getting worse.
so i think is there was no question that i should immigrate. >> there were skin sky activities from the best institutions in europe seeking also to get away. when they fled the nazis, they brought with them an international relationship of friendships and acquaintances, along with research they had been doing on a relatively new field, that of nuclear fission. it had been discovered in germany in 1938 and was an emerging field that promised massive amounts of energy. but there was also the thought that it could deliver that energy as a bomb. a single massive amount of injury that could destroy a city. >> and we knew there were a number of confidantes available.
so that made us concerned that we might be too late. >> the war just began four months earlier. so we knew it was a terrible world war. and it seemed fateful. we immediately saw no one's mind was on anything except how could this be used? it's quite clear it is quite possible to make an explosion. >> it was this that led the possibility to the u.s. government. together, with albert einstein, and edward teller, he composed a letter to franklin roosevelt. it told of the terrible possibility, germany had the talent and research to develop an a atomic letter. delivering on their behalf was alexander sacks, a friend and
economic adviser to the president. roosevelt said, alex, what you are after is to see that the nazis don't blow us up. precisely, sacks said. this requires action, roosevelt told an aide. intelligence reports from europe indicated the nazis were working on such a weapon. but no one knew how much effort they were devoting to it. the one certainty was that if hitler developed the bomb, he would win the war. the letter to roosevelt paved the way for a top secret military project, one that would have the highest priority and tightest security. it would be named the manhattan district. >> finally we began to do something in participating. it was a relief. >> the project was massive. to design and build a device
that existed only in theory from material that didn't exist in any quantity under unprecedented secrecy by people, many of whom, were not even u.s. citizens. it was known that the nucleus of one form of uranium, split when it formed a neutron. energy was release sd and more neutrons and struck nuclei. it is known as a change reaction. no one knew at the start how much fissionable material was needed to support an explosive chain reaction. that volume would be known as the critical mass. another element, only discovered in late 1941 by berkeley nuclear chemist also had properties to explode in a chain reaction. >> the isotope we produced was plutonium 238.
a month later, joined by emilio sea grave we identified in this room the isotope of importance, and isolated it so it could be have sufficient properties measured at the 37 inch cycle. >> general leslie groves of the u.s. army corps of engineers had just completed a major product, the construction of the pentagon. it had been his desire to accept a combat assignment oversea his superior officer told groves the secretary of war had selected him for an important assignment in washington. he was appointed head of the manhattan project. >> general tkproefs was a very difficult man to sum up.
but the same thing that appealed to groves is enormous devotion, determination to do what he could. >> italian physicist working in a space underneath the university of chicago stadium assembled a large pile of graphite blocks with uranium in it. in december 1942, he succeeded bringing the first man-made controlled nuclear chain reaction. now that controlled fission had been accomplished it could be study and the next steps could proceed. a highly regarded 38-year-old physicist. in october of that year he was at the university of chicago when groves came through on his first inspection tour. in conversations with groves, oppenheimer discussed the need for a central facility and other details. groves saw something in him, a leadership and an understanding of what needed to be done.
>> i became a graduate student at berkeley. his reputation for clear ex plication was strong. he was quick and easily able to quash a question. it was very difficult to interact with. >> he was a difficult human being. he was extremely intelligent, extremely quick. he understands -- he understood everything when it was being talked about. >> groves selected oppenheimer as the leader of the manhattan project together in one place. oppenheimer came to the project with an immediately controversy.
his security was questioned because of college acquaintances with communism. >> in the time before the war, he had been there lifted. >> groves overrode all selections and stayed. >> no one thought he would under take such a test. it was amazing general groves would have done that. i began to realize they were very different persons. very different views of the world. but they both had an intensity, determination. and i think that's what won over groves. oppenheim -- once he could see oppenheimer was in the job and he was determined to get it done as best he could. >> groves wanted to compartment allize each of the divisions. oppenheimer disagreed. science was discovered through collaboration. he held weekly cloak yums among the different science groups to exchange information to solve problems. >> he insisted that everybody should be interested and should know and should consider it.
>> the new lab would be devoted to experiment and engineering. oppenheimer was a theorist. >> the theory is the explanation of the objections. putting them in a framework that convinces us. we do know how a super nova explodes. but every single bit of physics that goes into understanding our universe has first been tested out right here on planet earth. and that's what an experimentalist does. he explores whether the laws really hold up. >> the best scientific talent in the country and outside the country will be working in what will be known as site y. but where? it would have to be in a remote
and sparsely populated locale. at least 200 miles from a coastline or international boundary room for explosives testing. enough housing to immediately accommodate the first group of scientists. major john dudley of the hand manhattan engineering district found an ideal location in oak city, south central utah. but there were too many residents and too much farmland. oppenheimer was no stranger in the southwest. his family had a vacation cabin in pacos, northern new mexico. the next was james springs. they drove there to have a look. both had the same opinion. the narrow canyon walls were too deep for comfort, space, and security. oppenheimer remembered a he had been by while on a trip and returned office as a visitor. it was a boys school in los
alamos. the students and masters were on the playing fields and a light snow was falling. this is it, groves said. located on the eastern slope of the james mountains, los a alamos had homesteaders and the los alamos school. it was the dream of a rough rider ashley pond. it was a school for the sons of wealthy families based on a vigorous life. students wore shorts year-round and slept in unheated sleeping areas. each student was assigned a horse to care for. and pack trips into the mountains were common they had spent time quietly since the 1920s. now its time was coming to an end. school officials started noticing low-flying planes studying the area. cars and military vehicles led up from the valley.
on december 4th, 1942, the school received notice from henry stenson, secretary of war, that the school was being taken over. condemnation proceedings were used. it was decreed all records of the acquisition be sealed from public view. almost 54,000 acres were acquired. 9,000 were public land. cost of acquisition, $440,000. >> after pearl harbor, we all knew we were kind of playing the game. you get out of school and you go off to war. so in the beginning of the fall of 42, surveyors were around here from the government. then they took it over. they were around a mega bulldozer. absolutely fantastic construction in a short length of time. we knew the school would be taken over. we didn't know when or what would be happening. >> construction crews started throwing up building for administration, housing, schools, and everything else the
community needed to function. it looked more like a boomtown than a wartime army camp. >> so towards the end of this, just before christmas two dudes show up here calling themselves mr. smith and mr. jones. the first one wearing a pork pie and the second a fedora. no way i'm mr. smith and mr. jones. who were there and what's the problem? well, it took two hours to know this was oppenheimer and lawrence. we called them by those names among us kids right then. we knew of them so well from our physics courses. we recognized their pictures in our books. >> class work was accelerated. in february 1943, the last graduation was held. new rows of unpaved streets that snow and rain turned to mud started to define the new
community. in january 1943, the university of california was selected to operate the new laboratory. recruiting was difficult. because prospective employees were doing good work and needed good reason to change their jobs. because of security, only scientific personnel could be told anything about the nature of the work. but they were to tell no one what they did, not even their families. 15 miles southeast of santa fe. in the spring of 1943 they started to arrive at the small railroad station that looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. arriving from all parts of the country and europe were the best scientific minds of the world. gray, bore, bega, teller, frisch, richard feinman, edward mcmillan.
some came as consultants and the rest at permanent staff. santa fe, new mexico. to those who came into town en route it was hard to see the small time as the state's capital. first was 109 east palace avenue. run by dorothy mckibben. she arranged for transportation, houses and hundreds of other little things that took away the apprehension of things to come. one wife said. >> i felt akin to the pioneer women accompanying their husbands across uncharted plains. alert to dangers resigned the fact that they journeyed for will or woe into the unknown. >> after leaving santa fe, the dirt road up to the site was rough even for that day. once they crossed the bridge
across the rio grand, they climbed up a steep road to the top of the mesa. there they were met by the first security gate. once they made it in, it was a different world. >> it was a pretty desolate place. the living quarters were just being built. and the one thing that was beautiful was the view of the mountain on the other side. but everything on the los alamos plateau was a mess. >> and my wife and son came two or three weeks later. i stayed in the big house.
and it was sort of a mess. it wasn't easy to sleep. apart from that, of course the surroundings, i knew it was magnificent. >> it was wartime. it struck me as a military camp. with an influx of people whom i knew. so i felt at home. >> the british were part of the project. they arrived as part of a mission to help work on the bomb. rows of four family apartment houses spread to the west and north. dormitories, huts, trailers, everyone was a transplant from somewhere else. because of the mission, because of everything else on the hill, it became a tight knit community of scientists, spouses, children, and military personnel most people were in their 20s or 30s. average age was 25. they were healthy, middleclass. there was no unemployment.
what you did at the lab dictated your social standing as well as the quality of your housing. >> from our point of view, it was wonderful. we had a better place to live. first place, there were plenty of food, meat. it was the days of rationing. a lot of people had miserable times in their apartments which were very cheap and shoddy construction, to the disappointment of many europeans did not have bath tubs. but the acoustic separation of houses were feeble. you always knew when your neighbors were having a party. >> some lived in homes previously used by the school masters. it became known as bathtub row. since they were the only places that had them. in the beginning of april 1943, oppenheimer assembled the staff, then about 30, for a series of introductory lectures by his collaborator, robert serber. it incorporated research done on fission the past year. it was determined that explosive
means would do the job by taking a subcritical mass and making it critical so the radioactive material would detonate. two methods had been devised. one was a gun method where two halves of material were shot together to form the critical mass, starting the nuclear detonation. it was discovered the gun method would work with uranium but not plutonium. >> there was spontaneous fission. that produced neutrons all the time. and at a sufficiently high rate that if you had a gun assembly, before they got together big enough to have a big explosion, they would predetonate. >> we all made fun of. it gave the idea of the implosion which in the end
turned out to be the way to do it. >> sudden isly the top priority shifted over to the plutonium. >> the gun method was the easiest. but the science of implosion would have to be developed also. it required science and engineering that would enable simultaneous compression of plutonium. nothing like this had ever been created. plutonium would also have to be tested. it would be months before the first significant amounts of nuclear material would be delivered. before that would happen, there
were many questions which came down to the central problem, how to make the fissionable material, uranium 235 or 238, release at the right time in a casing an airplane could deliver. one of the biggest problem was extracting u-235 from u-238. that was the job at oakridge, tennessee. thousands of stages of the operation, thousands of miles of piping and hundreds of acres of barriers were used to produce the metal from uranium-enriched gas. also used were electromagnetic separation and thermal fusion. the produce and refine the material. oak ridge employed thousands of workers. a team had been assembled in chicago by glenn seaborg to device a method for extracting plutonium. hanford depended as much on chemical separation as it did on the reactors. it was glen sea borgs massively scaled up from his chick team's ultra chemical work. >> we had been working with what you call tracer amounts, invisible amounts detected by its radio activity. but we couldn't deduce the
chemical properties with certainty that way. we needed to work with actual ponderable, weighable amounts. that's why we produced weighable amounts of plutonium in this amount. this mean we had to work, i say we. the chemists working with me. on what they call an ultra micro chemical scale. >> slowly, the materials started to come to los alamos in september 1944. for those in los alamos not part of the project, life continued. all mail came to p.o. box 1663 in santa fe. everyone had the same address. babies born at the lab had it at their place of birth. it was on auto registrations, bank accounts, income tax returns, and insurance policies. los alamos was an army post. one that had more civilians than military personnel.
in the first year, 80 babies were born. by 1945, there were over 300 infants at the site. the population doubled every nine months. housing would always be short, water scarce, and electricity intermittent. the threat of structure is fire was always in the back of everyone's mind. then there was security. residents could not travel more than 100 miles from los alamos. if you ran to a friend on the outside of the project, you had to give a detailed report to security. famous names were disguised. occupations were never mentioned. everyone was an engineer. the word physicist was forbidden. all mail was sensored. all long-distance calls were monitored, which was easy since there was only one phone line in 1943. by 1945, there were three.
the entire project was surrounded by high barbed wire fences and controlled by guards. work weeks were six days, 12 to 14-hour days were normal. saturday nights they partied. they were big and small. and were an integral part to life on the mesa. >> we would tend to go to a dinner with six people. >> social affairs were every saturday night. the furniture was pushed back for dancing. and parties often lasted well into the night. >> we would square dance once a month. >> sunday were picnics, went to the mountains, went to the indian pueblo, the ruins. santa fay, if we could afford the gas.
there was a time. it was an intense time. we all worked i think it is fair to say 60-hour weeks. we worked on saturday by rule. sunday was the only day off. >> the work, governed by the urgency from events waged on the battle fields in europe and in the pacific, never got easier. but those working on the bomb felt they had the science. it was the engineering that created the problems. >> i think a myth has arisen. partly due to circumstances, which is how divitt was. what an intellectual feat it was. scientists like to say it was difficult. it looked difficult. it wasn't very difficult. >> i entirely agree. >> work on the gun type weapon moved ahead.
work on the implosion was slow, and at times hopeless. detailed quantitative data was needed. no one knew exactly how powerful the weapon would be. in late 1943, planning for the test was begun. the site that was selected was on the bombing range in central new mexico. it was 210 miles south of los alamos, 27 miles from the nearest town, and 12 miles from the nearest in hand at that point in time. in november 1944, construction of the base camp began. the test was initially scheduled for july 4th. the activity at the test site increased despite things like snakes, scorpions, heat and dust. herds of antelope and range beef started to disappear, showing up on the menu. hunting often took place with the aid of submachine guns.
on april 12th, 1945, president franklin roosevelt died. flags across the country and around the world flew at half-staff. including the flag at the test site named trinity by oppenheimer. sworn in to take up leadership of the country was then vice president harry truman. less than a month later on may 8th, the war in europe, which had been raging since 1939 ended with the surrender of german forces. race to beat hitler building an atom bomb was an end. as worried as they were about the development of a nuclear bomb, there had been no intelligence to figure out the
extent of the progress during the war. but as the allies advanced into germany, a team of paramilitary operatives working for general groves searched for evidence. among their finds, germany did not have an atomic bomb and not likely to have one any time soon. the work at los alamos considered. seth netter myer had been discovering the symmetrical implosion. it would focus the shock wave inward to compress the subcritical mass to critical. near los alamos, high explosives were mixed to form the cocoon the fission would collect in. the molten explosive had to be cooled just right to prevent air bubbles which would interfere with the detonation. the lenses required precision casting with machine finishing. tolerances for the hundred or so pieces had to fit together within a few thousandths of an insure. things still fell behind schedule. the test date was moved back.
in order to accurately calibrate the instrumentation for the test, another test, one using only high explosives was needed. a dress rehearsal of 100 tons of tnt was planned for. hundreds of creates were stacked on a 20-foot tower. tubes of low-level nuclear material were scattered throughout the explosives to simulate the radioactive products of a nuclear blast. everything was set to a scale to match the expected effects of the nuclear test shot. on may 7th, the high explosive was detonated. the orange fireball was seen 60 miles away. but what if the real test was unsuccessful? the physicianble material might be lost from the debt nation of the high explosives surrounding it. >> the decision was made early
on to khan any miss fire within a huge steel vessel, 25 feet long, 12 feet in diameter, 14 inches thick and weighed 214 tons. it was called jumbo. by the time it was delivered, though, production of the fissionable material had increased. and there was great confidence in the success of the bomb. use of jumbo was canceled. instead, it was hung from the tower 800 yards from grand zero. senior scientists started a betting pool. >> i bet on the number that they had predicted. >> edward teller bet high, 45,000 tons. >> i bet -- i was the only one who lost the pool because i bet too high. practically everybody else bet too low. >> nor ramsey bet low. >> i bet zero. and i think that was the most
intelligent bet ever. it included not only zero but it also included the first 25 generations of neutrons. this is an exponentially growing thing. if it stopped anywhere along there it would be zero on the scale it had. so i had the biggest number statistically the best chance of winning. >> i think that gives a bit of a quantitative estimate. and i cannot see into the souls of other people. i was very much interested. >> los alamos started sending those down who needed to be at the test site. as it drew closer, there was a nagging uncertainty weather the bomb would work at all. in a meeting before the test, h a ans beta described all that was known about the bomb and what wasn't. >> it is a very dangerous thing
to do. family was almost always right. so i felt uncertainly. >> what we started doing during the war we very often kept saying maybe we will come across a physical obstacle. you can easily imagine those things. for example, a little delay in the fast neutrons after fission. >> they would know only if the gadget detonated. three areas were of prime importance. the release of nuclear energy in the form of gamma rays. second was damage measurement. third was blast effect, earth
shock and radiant heating. reinforced shelters had been built at 10,000 yards north, west, and south of grand zero for cameras to record and scientists to observe on the blast. one camera would shoot color. the rest black and white. besides running at normal speed, some would be running as fast as 8,000 frames per second. >> it would take pictures. and then it was fastened to a steel cable that could be used to pull those cameras out of that a area, which would be too radioactive to go in at all at that time. >> on july 7th, norris brad bury, group leader began putting them through loading tests in las alamos. by the following thursday, the 12th, assembly of the high explosives sphere began at v
site. the next day they left for trinity site. 250 men from los alamos were already there. by now, plutonium had been shaped. july 11th they made the trip in the back seat of a well-guarded sedan. >> i remember being rather afraid of the fast-driving young woman who drove us down in the convoy. it was really high-speed pedal to the floor driver. that was the scariest thing. >> a 100-foot prefabricated tower had been built. it was braced for an electric winch at the top. on friday, july 13th, starting at 9:00 a.m., the pit, as the core would be known, was assembled in a sealed and thoroughly cleaned room at mcdonald ranch at ground zero. before assembly began a receipt was signed for the plutonium.
value, at least several hundred million dollars. at the moment the receipt was signed, it tested to military control. though the number of parts were few, assembly took several hours. the core was then taken to the tower. final assembly began in a canvas tent at the base of the tower. there were a few moments of concern when the core did not fit in the center of the device. once the center equalized the pit slipped smoothly into place. the next day it was removed. and gadget, with its core, was hoisted to the top of the tower. only detonators had not been installed. it gave the bomb a bandaged look.
>> we made measurements every few hours to see if it was behaving properly. it was the first that had been left out for any period of time. so somebody was there. somebody in my group had to climb up and measure something, come back down again every few hours. >> the weather, still a concern, started to turn dark. thunder and lightning as test day arrived. it started to rain. would the test be able to go on? midnight, july 16th. >> extraordinary. very hard to sleep. very hard to get your minds off all the things that might have gone wrong. but you know, the job was a crucial one. test fire to see if this whole idea would work. that was in everyone's mind. >> everybody was extremely excited to see if it actually would turn out to be that way. because no one really knew whether the thing would work or not. >> by 2:00 a.m., the weather started to look better. the shot, which was originally scheduled for 4:00 a.m.,
postponed to 5:30. at 4:00 a.m., the rain stopped. at 4:45, an updated weather report showing improved conditions. the test was a go for 5:30. at 5:09:45, t minus 20 minutes, "the master" switches were unlocked. the countdown had begun. at viewing sites around trinity, everyone was told to lie face down with their feet towards the blast and close and cover their eyes. >> we were all given welder's glasses, not to be blinded. i took dark glasses in addition to welder's glasses. then i put something over my face and gloves to be protected against all eventual ality. >> they didn't allow many people but they did allow me. and i looked with -- i closed, had one eye protected. i couldn't look with both eyes.
so i was looking with just one eye. >> there were three of us. one of the other people was ken who went to cornell in the explosive division. he had done his work. he was next to robby on one side i guess. and -- yeah, next to him. he was really getting quite excited. and bryson was very relaxed. and robbie said, ghee, aren't you going to get excited? no. you have to be calm. you do a lot of work with explosives. and he was fairly calm. and he said well, you tell me when you get excited. >> as the final minute approached, general groves had thoughts of his money. >> the quiet grew more intense. as i lay there in the final seconds i thought of what i
would do if the countdown got to zero and nothing happened. >> the scene inside the shelter was dramatic beyond words. it can be safely said that most everyone was praying. oppenheimer grew tenser as the seconds ticked off. he scarce isly breathed. >> at 45 seconds, the automatic timer was started. the test was now out of man's control. fist civility kenneth greeceon changed his mind. >> he said i'm excited. >> five, four, three, two, one. >> in the dead silence of the morning, at 5:29:45, mountain wartime, it was bathed in an
intense flash of a light man had only seen from the stars. >> most experiences in life can be comprehended by previous experience. but the atom bomb did not fit into any preconception possessed by anybody, norris brad bury. >> the light from the blast was the one place where theoretical calculation had been way off. in the instrument bunker at 10,000 north, berlin bricksler was caught off guard. >> but then i realized the ball of fire was moving up. so i grabbed the controls of the camera and turned the camera up. and so you see it abruptly just suddenly jerks up. >> i was looking straight at the high spot that appeared a very small mind of light. and my first impression was, i very distinctly remember; that odd? >> you looked in the other direction it was like the sun had just risen temporarily. >> and when i started to see it,
i did not think of the glasses. by that time i knew it was big. i traced the glasses and looked down at the sand behind me. the whole thing was dark. barely light. as i looked down at the set, it was like you were lifting the curtain in a darkened room. >> before i got my hand up to start adjusting the goggles, i felt something. i didn't know -- i hadn't been smart enough to interpret, to figure out what was going to happen. nobody had thought of it, i don't think. it was a cool, desert morning. the sun had not quite come up. the air was still.
it had that curious chill of a hot place which is the coolest hour of the day. and suddenly on that cool background the heat of the sun came to me before the sun rose. it was the heat of the bomb. not the light. but the heat was the first thing that i could feel. >> physicist frank oppenheimer he standing next to brother he standing next to brother robert wrote -- >> there was a sense of ominous cloud hanging over us. it was so brilliant purple, with all the radioactive glowing. and it just seemed to hang there forever. of course it didn't. it must have been a very short time until it went up. it was very terrifying. and the thunder from the blast, it bounced on the rocks. and then it went, i don't know where else it bounced. but it never seemed to stop. not like an ordinary echo with thunder. it just kept echoing back and forth. it was a very scary time when it went off. and i wish i would remember what
my brother said, but i can't. but i think we just said it worked. i think that's what we both said, both of us. it worked. >> at 4:00 a.m., up on sandy crest overlooking albuquerque, groups of people who had driven there up the winding dirt road thought the test of failure when nothing happened. those who stayed were a amazed by what they saw. >> the world will not be the same. two people laughed. two people cried. most people were silent. i remembered the line from the hindu scripture. trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes multiarmed form and says now, i am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
i suppose we all felt that. >> the explosion caused excitement around the state. wire service ises were swamped with inquiries. and the army was prepared. three weeks before the test, a release had been prepared and september to the headquarters of the bombing range. it stated that a ammunition dump in a remote part of the range filled with high explosives, gas, shells, and pyrotechnics had exploded. weather conditions affecting the gas shells exploded by the blast may make it desirable for the army to temporarily evacuate some civilians from their homes. not long after sunrise, what was left of the cloud had started to
dissipate. there was concern that the radiated dust and debris from the blast, fallout, would fall onto neighboring communities. at a few locations, detectors showed rises in radio activity, but they dropped quickly. oppenheimer returned to base camp from 10,000 south. >> when he came back, there he was, you know, with his hat. you see pictures of robert's hat. he came to where we were in headquarters. his walk was like high noon. that's the best i can describe it. this kind of strut. he had done it. ay, ay, robert. >> he looked very relieved, as might be expected. after all, it had worked. and the tension was over. >> later in the morning, fairmy and herbert anderson dawned white surgical scrubs and rode a tank. the tank broke down after a mile and he had to walk on.
anderson observed the crater through a periscope. the 100-foot tower had been vaporized. all that remained were the stumps anchored 20 feet into the ground. covering the ground was a green glass-like substance, made up of sand. it would later be killed tri nitite. 21,000 tons of tnt. the bet was 18,000 tons. mainly because all the low numbers were taken. he won. the bomb's yield exceeded the most optimistic predictions. there was still a great deal of work to be done. this was only rehearsal. >> the interesting thing about that was the collapse of security in the dining halls
that evening. because everyone was exchanges experiences about the explosion. where they saw it from, what it was and so on. and not just a few people but a roar of such discussion. >> in potsdam, yugoslavia, president truman and churchill were meeting with stalin to decide how to end the war in the pacific. it was not their preference to include russia unless absolutely necessary. >> we were very tested whether truman had told stalin about our test. we were told, yes, truman had mentioned it and stalin had reacted not -- in a noncommittal way. >> because he already knew? >> he already knew. >> after the successful test at
trinity, leo zelard who became the plant tan project was concerned that the weapon, which was made to stop hitler, should not be used. he and other scientists felt it should be demonstrated to japan to encourage them to sur sender. he started a petition among the scientists to appeal to the president to consider alternative plans. >> even before the test, sometime i believe end of june, i got a letter from my very good friend, lee growo, whom i had driven to see einstein at the time when he signed the letter that got things going. and he had said to me that the bomb should not be dropped before the japanese were first notified. will i please sign it.
and subsequently, the 11th, it was in chicago. i wanted to sign it. but i felt i could not circulate it without showing it to oppenheimer. that i did. and oppenheimer got very excited. that is completely wrong. we scientists have one job, to solve the technical problems. we don't know anything about the japanese. we don't know anything about politics. we should shut up about all those things. now, i had strong feelings about it and i wanted to sign it and i wanted to circulate it, but on the other hand, what oppenheimer said made sense and he also had the prestige with everybody, including me.
i did not sign the letter. >> oppenheimer, maybe -- came together in a meeting and decided they did not know any other way to use the weapon effectively than to actually drop it. and retrospectively, i agreed at the time and i agree more today. >> we know definitively, one week later when kennedy gave his famous lecture of the effects of the bomb the thursday after the
monday, again, it's clearly going to end the city and probably the war. >> but by then, the dye was cast. the bomb was under control of the military and the targets had been selected. >> we are now prepared to destroy more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the japanese have in any city. we shall destroy their docks, their communications. let there be no mistake, we shall completely destroy japan's power to make war. it was to spare the japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of july 26th was issued. their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. if they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a reign of fluid from the air the like of which has never been seen on this earth.
>> a few hours before dawn on july 16th, while the scientists at trinity site waited for the test in the new mexico desert, the prototypes of the gun-type weapon were being hoisted aboard. a few weeks later, on august 6th, 1945, a b-29 named anoha gay took off in the early morning hours. just after 8:00 a.m., it dropped the weapon named little boy which exploded approximately a thousand feet over the japanese city of hiroshima.
three days later, another mission carrying the plutonium implosion weapon named fat man detonated over nagasaki. a few weeks later, the war ended with the japanese surrender on the battle ship missouri in tokyo bay. world war ii was over. >> let us pray the peace now restored to the world and that god will preserve it always. these proceedings are closed.